Jessica Jones Season 1: Marvel scores again with Netflix

Jessica Jones

When Netflix first debuted its trailer for the Jessica Jones series, this blog said the writers would have a dark tightrope to walk. That was Oct. 24. Now, having finally finished the series just after Christmas, it’s safe to say that Marvel once again handled a Netflix project just about as well as can be realistically expected.


Jessica Jones is a show about “control,” but it is much more than a rape survivor’s tale as some reviews imply.

  • It’s about our ability to allow the past to control our future.
  • It’s about the control parents have over children.
  • It’s about the control siblings have over one another.
  • It’s about the control we give our friends and lovers.
  • It’s about addictions — to drugs, alcohol, self-loathing and more.
  • It’s about free will.

Krysten Ritter as Jessica Jones, David Tennant as Killgrave, and Mike Colter as Luke Cage deliver the goods in their respective roles. Supporting actors like Eka Darville as “Malcolm” more often than not hit the mark, and the end result is a show that nearly matches Daredevil in terms of overall quality.

Luke Cage

Jessica Jones’ one weakness is that its cast of misfits and their problems sometimes become so over-the-top that moments played for drama seem laughably absurd. Scenes involving Wil Traval’s “Simpson” and Colby Minifie’s “Robyn” tend to be the worst offenders. Unfortunately, it looks like Simpson will probably have an important role to play in Season 2.

If Jessica Jones wants to keep the momentum going, then its writers should bring in Colter’s Luke Cage as much as possible. In many ways he was an emotional rock in Jessica Jones’ unstable world. In a sea of bizarre and troubled characters, Cage was the one guy who seemed to have a semi-healthy handle on his emotional baggage.

Jessica Jones needs one character who is consistently balanced from episode to episode, and Colter lived up to the task admirably.

In short, if you enjoyed Daredevil then you should check out Jessica Jones. It’s a dark series done well, and a welcome addition to Marvel’s Netflix library.

Jessica Jones: Marvel, Netflix attempt to walk ‘dark’ tightrope

Jessica Jones

Somewhere out in space and time there is an alternate dimension where Marvel’s “Jessica Jones” somehow wound up on network television in the 90s, and instead of Krysten Ritter in the lead role fans got Janeane Garofalo. That is one major obstacle dodged, but there is still a challenge — walking the tightrope between “dark” and “dark for the sake of being dark.”

I was first introduced to Jessica Jones in 2001 when I picked up Brian Michael Bendis’ “Alias.” The book was part of Marvel’s “Max” line (i.e., not for children). It was incredibly well-written for a long stretch. I always thought it would make for good television. However, the one major problem any producer of a “Jessica Jones” show will have is, “How dark should it be?”

Jessica Jones fire

There is a fine line between exploring evil that can lurk inside the human heart, and simply wallowing in filth just to get a reaction out of others.

Bendis, at his best, seems to be a skilled tightrope walker. Examples of failure in this regard may include Garth Ennis’ “The Boys” and the Mark Millar-Steve McNiven collaboration “Nemesis.”

Jessica Jones Police Department

Marvel and Netflix did a fabulous job with Daredevil, but it isn’t hard to imagine mindless producers saying, “Daredevil was dark and it was popular. Maybe we should go really dark with Jessica Jones!” 

If Marvel and its creative partners avoided this trap, then it is likely “Jessica Jones” will be a show worth watching. At least for now, everyone can stand up and cheer for a.) the inclusion Mike Colter as Luke Cage, and b.) the absence of Janeane Garofalo from the finished product.